Republic of Ireland international Aaron Connolly felt coming up against the best defender in the world on Saturday only added to his development, despite the disappointing outcome. 

Connolly drew a blank against Liverpool and Virgil van Dijk as Brighton fell to a 2-1 defeat at Anfield, although they performed well in the game.

The 19-year-old Galway native told the Brighton and Hove Independent how he was about to get a chance on goal when the Dutch defender got the better of him.

"I thought I was in and then and he [Van Dijk] comes back and he's toed it back to his keeper and I’m just thinking 'sometimes you have to appreciate you are playing against the best defender in the world'."

"To play against someone like that at 19 can only help.

"Obviously, he’s a brilliant player so it was tough but I thought I did okay. We just need to focus on Arsenal now because the games are going to come quick now."

Early goals conceded to Van Dijk left Brighton up against it but they rallied well thanks to Lewis Dunk’s goal.

"The gaffer’s game plan worked but if you cancel out that first 15 minutes then we come away with a point, if not three," Connolly said.

"At any level, to concede two goals from set-pieces, you can’t really do it.

"You can’t give someone like that [Van Dijk] that much space, especially when he is that big. We need to learn from that. We can’t concede two set-pieces and expect to get a result. But after that I thought we dominated the match.

"It was a tough result to take because we could have got a point or even a win. But you can’t concede two set-pieces away at Liverpool and expect to win."